California Senate Bill 962, requiring that all cell phones include a “kill switch,” was defeated on Thursday. According to the Sacramento Bee, the innovation, providing owners with the ability to shut down the phone rendering it useless if stolen, is strongly endorsed by law enforcement groups.
Opponents of the bill succeeded by the narrow margin of just two votes. They argued that the bill was unnecessary because cell phone companies like AT&T and Verizon have already introduced software applications on their own which allow customers to delete information and permanently black-out their phones.
Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar seems to be happy with the outcome. “When you find yourself in the end zone, declare victory and move on. The industry is voluntarily doing it,” he said. In what was intended as a joke, Huff admitted that many Californians wish they had a “kill switch” for the lawmakers “when they come up with crazy ideas.”
The Bee reported that the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) still thinks that we need the bill because it would set a target date of next summer for the carriers to include the “kill switch” as a default on all new cell phones.
Although Leno refrains from flat out accusing the cell phone carriers of delaying the security measure for financial gain, he implies that they are concerned about how the new technology will impact revenue streams.
According to a study by Omaha, Nebraska-based Creighton University, consumers spent five hundred and eighty million dollars replacing cell phones that they lost. Moreover, they spent a mind-boggling $4.8 billion on cell phone insurance to protect themselves against losing their phones. The study estimates that if a “kill switch” was incorporated into the phone, at least half of those surveyed said they would decrease their insurance coverage.
Last year Leno explains, “The industry makes billions, tens of billions of dollars replacing lost and stolen phones each year. They also make many billions of dollars selling you and me insurance in case you are robbed. If we end the robbery, there will be an obvious impact to their bottom line.”